Links in New Windows

All links external to this site launch in a new window. I've always done this, but I'm telling you ahead of time because I felt I owed it to you as my reader.

I want to acknowledge another blogger, Nancy Loderick, who suggested that's what she was going to do so on her blog. She was uncertain which was the best action -- new window or same window for external links. She posted a question on LinkedIN and the results were interesting:

  • 54% responding wanted links in a new window
  • 18% wanted links in the same window
  • 18% said it depended on circumstances
  • 72% of responders in the technology sector wanted links in the same window
  • 91% of responders who were marketers or writers wanted links in a new window

Here is my rationale: You came to my site for a reason and if I provide you a link away, I am responsible for also providing you a way back. The easiest way for you to get back is to not really take you away in the first place by letting you take the new link in a new window. If you decide you don't want to come back to my site you haven't lost anything, you can explore to your heart's content in the new window and delete the original window. On the other hand, if I open the new site in the same window as my site and you want to get back to my site, you may have a hard time finding me again. Yet, it's easy to delete the new window and find yourself right back where you left off on my site. 

Technologists tend to be Internet purists. They want the Internet to be "free," which means to be free of content-provider restrictions. They want to be able to roam the free range of the Internet without my forcing them to follow my path. I understand and appreciate that. However, most of my readers are probably not technologists per se. They're average people who don't mind a little guidance finding things and finding their way back. The greatest disservice I can do to my readers is to send them on a wild goose chase across the Internet in which they can't get back to their starting point. If they know my URL, they can find me, but if they found me by referral, such as through a search or Twitter, or a URL shortener, they won't be able to find me again. I am helping them by using a new window for new links. 

What do you think? New window or same window?

The debate will rage on. The two sides likely will never agree. Technologists can do it their way, and the rest of us can do it ours. That's the freedom of the Internet.